Laura Castel, a member of the International İmralı Peace Delegation, drew attention to the delegation’s recent visit to İstanbul and voiced her concerns over the treatment of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been detained in the maximum-security İmralı Prison for more than two decades, with no communication allowed for the past two years, when interviewed by the Kurdish press in Turkey.
Speaking to JinNews, Castel criticised a decision of the Turkish Justice Ministry which deemed the isolation in İmralı as not constituting “ill-treatment.” In response to that decision, she said, “It is torture, because keeping a person in isolation conditions with no communication with your lawyer at least, with your family at least, is torture. To keep these people, these inmates gagged with no right to speak, with no right to share what is happening there is torture.”
Castel emphasised that addressing the situation through peaceful negotiations and respecting human rights is essential, stating that “The real solution lies in dialogue, the release of Öcalan, courageously confronting this problem, and starting the peace process in a democratic way.”
Speaking to Mezopotamya Agency, Castel, who also serves as Deputy Chair of the Group of the European Left in the Council of Europe and representative of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, expressed her intention to file an application with the Council of Europe, seeking authorisation to visit Öcalan in order to assess the situation first hand.
Turkey’s consistent dismissal of the demands regarding prison conditions in the Council of Europe has raised concerns, leading Castel to state, “We will raise questions to the Committee of Ministers asking about the conditions [in İmralı Prison]… And there are always debates on Turkey in every session. The Kurdish issue is always on the agenda.”
On 11 May, the International İmralı Peace Delegation visited the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) with the objective of raising awareness about Öcalan’s prolonged isolation and advocating for his fundamental rights, including communication and fair treatment.